Using Blended Learning and Emerging Technologies to Transform the Adult Learning Experience

Using Blended Learning and Emerging Technologies to Transform the Adult Learning Experience

Leslie Cordie (Auburn University, USA), Maria Martinez Witte (Auburn University, USA) and James E. Witte (Auburn University, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-9577-1.ch015
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Abstract

Faculty are increasing the use of emerging technologies in their classrooms and are recognizing the value of blending face-to-face and online learning to meet educational needs. Blended learning is defined as combining face-to-face and online learning formats. This chapter discusses the definition of blended learning and how it is affecting adult learning experiences and classroom settings. This chapter also addresses faculty and instructional design practices that can be used for blended learning and to continue promoting a positive teaching and learning environment for both face-to-face and online learners. Future research efforts can be focused on faculty development and academic support to continue fostering blended learning and meeting the needs of today's learners.
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Introduction

The use of online learning technologies in higher education institutions has increased rapidly throughout the past couple of decades and the way teaching and learning is being conducted is also changing. Online teaching may be provided in a strictly online format or in a combination of both face-to-face and online formats. Classrooms are being redefined as flexible learning environments in which students are collaborating and communicating with fellow students in both inside and outside of their classrooms (Watson, 2008). Serving the needs of online learners has been a higher priority for academic institutions and they have added distance learning as an alternative to classroom-based programs (National Online Learners Priorities Report, 2013).

Allen and Seaman (2011) identified differences between the face-to-face and online courses. Traditional face-to-face courses will typically not use online technology and the content is provided during a class meeting. Although face-to-face and online instruction maintain separate characteristics for communication and interaction, combining them can promote a positive learning experience (Gerbic, 2011). The combination of face-to-face and online instruction is referred to as blended learning. Garrison and Kanuka (2004) reinforced the simplicity and complexity of blended learning; however, blended learning could be used as a thoughtful integration of both face-to-face and online learning. Emerging models in both higher education and the K-12 settings indicate that the future of education will involve the provision of content, resources, and instruction using online and face-to-face, even within the same classroom. “Blended learning, combining the best elements of online and face-to-face education, is likely to emerge as the predominant teaching model of the future” (Watson, 2008, p. 4). There are more adult learners entering higher education (Allen & Seaman, 2011) and blended learning may serve to meet their needs. Faculty can perform a vital role in transforming the adult learner’s experiences in face-to-face, online, or in blended learning environments. The growth of online and blended education formats necessitate the importance of meeting the needs and demands of the adult learner.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Net Generation / Millennials: The group of Americans, born between 1980 and the mid-2000s, who have experienced the Internet and related technologies as a major influence on their culture and development ( The Council of Economic Advisers, 2014 ).

Blended Learning Learner: An individual that participates in both online and face-to-face classroom environments to meet with learning goals.

Blended/Hybrid Learning: The “pedagogical approach that combines the effectiveness and socialization opportunities of the classroom with the technologically enhanced active learning possibilities of the online environment” ( Dziuban, Hartman, & Moskal, 2004 , p. 3).

Self-Directed Learner: A learner that takes on the responsibility of designing, implementing, and evaluating their own learning projects.

Synchronous: Online classes or programs that require learners and instructors to be online at the same time in order to facilitate lectures, discussion, and/or presentations.

Online Learner: An individual that uses online learning technologies to meet their learning goals.

MOOCs: Massive Open Online Course. This course of study is available through the internet, at no cost, to a large number of interested individuals.

Asynchronous: Online classes or programs that do not require learners and instructors to be online at the same time in order to facilitate lectures, discussion, and/or presentations. Courses or programs can be completed independently.

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